Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Schuyler Bailar


Schuyler Bailar was a champion breaststroker with an excellent academic record who had numerous women's swim coaches from the Ivy League attempting to recruit her.  She decided to swim for Harvard, but last fall, Schuyler switched teams, and now swims with the men’s team.  Consequently, Harvard became the first men's Division I athletic team to include an openly transgender young man.

Before, Schuyler Bailar even learned to swim, she wasn’t a typical little girl.  In a CBS NEWS interview with Lesley Stahl, Schuyler admitted: “My parents dressed me in pink dresses and bow ties, and I had a doll.  But I don't think I was typical even then 'cause - I would like to rip them off and I didn't want to wear the dresses.”

Schuyler's parents, Gregor and Terry Bailar had simply assumed Schuyler was a tomboy who preferred short hair and hanging out with the guys.  That their daughter might be transgender never occurred to them.  Schuyler saw no choice but to try and make it work as a girl with long hair and dresses.  Her attempt it backfired, and she developed both bulimia and anorexia.

After, hearing some transgender men speak at a local church, everything started to make sense.  When her father pick her up she hugged him and started crying and sobbing.  And said: "Dad, I think I'm transgender."

The question Schuyler had for Coach Stephanie Morawski was: "Can I still swim on your team?"  In fact, the NCAA has a policy that allows for athletes who identify as male but were born female to compete on a women's team as long as they don't take male hormones.  Schuyler started making plans to live something of a double life: to be a man on Harvard's campus the next fall, but a woman on Harvard's swim team.  But, Schuyler came out as transgender on Facebook, and posted on Instagram that he had had a double mastectomy to remove the breasts he didn't want. 

Coach Morawski discussed her concerns with her colleague, Harvard men's swim coach Kevin Tyrrell, who asked: “Why doesn't he just swim for my team”  That would be allowed under NCAA rules, and he'd be permitted to take testosterone.

Before giving Schuyler the option of joining the team, Coach Tyrrell called a meeting of his swimmers to discuss what he thought would be a very sensitive issue.  They didn't see it as a big deal.

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